After a one-year absence, due to construction at Manning's Restaurant, Harrah's holiday spectacular, "Miracle on Fulton Street" returns, bringing back with it a true New Orleans seasonal tradition. Begun in 2007 to help rekindle the holiday spirit after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, "Miracle" is a panoply of lighting effects and Christmas decorations that will stimulate the senses and instill within you the magical joy that comes with "the most wonderful time of the year."
Offering something for all ages, Miracle on Fulton Street is free and open to the public. Visitors and locals alike will marvel at the tunnel-like effect created by tens of thousands of tiny LED lights. Every hour on the hour, between 5:00 and 11:00 p.m., simulated "snow" will fall from the tunnel's canopy. Kids, especially those who've never seen real snow before, will love it!
On Fridays and Saturdays, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., Santa Claus will be on hand to take his annual holiday requests from the youngsters and pose for photos with them. Along with Jolly Old St. Nick will be his reindeer and perhaps even an elf or two. Carolers will stroll around singing the joyful songs of the season and visitors are welcome to join in.
The lighting display will be up through Tuesday, January 2. Ample parking is available in the adjacent Harrah's garages with their entrances facing Convention Center Boulevard.
Celebration in the Oaks
It's a unique, month-long light show in historic, scenic City Park as thousands of colorful lights and illuminated outdoor displays showcase the holiday season in New Orleans. Going into its 26th year, Celebration in the Oaks is a family-friendly event that only happens after dark, and it has become of the most beautiful holiday lighting displays in the country, attracting hundreds of thousands of people annually.
Lights are strung across City Park's centuries-old live oak trees and elsewhere throughout the section of the park closest to the major attractions, including Storyland, the Botanical Gardens and the Carousel Gardens amusement ride area. Children and their parents are invited to take a ride on the miniature train that circles the park, passing underneath colorful holiday displays and other special effects. The world-famous, century-old Carousel, with its ornately carved horses, is operating throughout the event, along with other rides and attractions. There is also nightly entertainment and a full-service café.
Those who arrive by private vehicles will find ample parking on-site. The Celebration in the Oaks tour can only be taken on foot; vehicles are no longer allowed to drive through it. Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday, 6:00-10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6:00-11:00 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve).
Admission is $7 per person; children under three admitted free. Rides are $3 apiece and unlimited ride wristbands can be purchased for $17. To avoid lines and purchase tickets ahead of time click here. You must bring your printed-out tickets with you.
For more information call 504-483-9415 or email email@example.com.
Advisory: No pets allowed.
The Hotel Monteleone lobby will echo with the beautiful sounds of holiday cheer this Christmas season as school choirs from the Greater New Orleans Area sing familiar holiday carols every weekday. Performances start at 10:00 a.m. in the hotel, located at 214 Royal Street in the French Quarter.
The public is invited to come and listen to this free event. For more information call 504-681-4452.
Bring the kids and celebrate the start of the holiday season at the Festival of Trees Family Kick-Off Brunch! Explore an enchanted forest of decorated trees sponsored by community partners and enjoy holiday entertainment and fare. The decorated trees represent the arts, culture, food and literature of New Orleans and the southern Louisiana region. You and your kids can enjoy the museum all morning before the doors open to the general public at 1:00 p.m.
The event is from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 for museum members, $15 for non-members. For more information call 504-266-2415.
Following the kick-off brunch, the Festival of Trees will be featured at the museum during regular hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 noon-4:30 p.m. Admission is $8 per person and is free for members (excluding special events).
Visitors and locals are invited to check out French Market's annual family-friendly Christmas event with live music, free craft booths, a petting zoo and photos with Saint Nicholas in charming Dutch Alley. The event is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more information call 504-522-2621 or go their website, www.frenchmarket.org
Location: Magazine Street
Sponsoring Organization: Magazine Street Merchants Association
Tickets: None - Free and open to the public
Heading uptown from the French Quarter and the Central Business District is world-famous Magazine Street, roughly five to six miles of art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants, quaint coffeehouses and many other types of unique businesses. The Magazine Street Merchants Association is sponsoring its annual "Merriment on Magazine Street" on four successive Saturdays in December, leading up to Christmas Eve.
Here on Magazine Street you will find whatever it is you're looking for for that special person(s) in your life this Holiday Season. For a list of festive happenings and details check out their website at www.magazinestreet.com or call 504-342-4435. No car, no problem. Take the Magazine Street bus from Canal Street and hop out anywhere along the way.
Location: Canal Street
Sponsoring Organization: Downtown Development District and The Roosevelt Hotel
Tickets: None. Free and open to the public
What would New Orleans be without a parade? And what better time to stage one than "the most wonderful time of the year," as the old song goes. Back for its fifth year, New Orleans' official holiday parade, the "Krewe of Jingle," will once again delight locals and visitors alike with authentic parade floats, marching bands, stilt walkers, Christmas characters and many more magical surprises! Even the candy-apple red Canal streetcars get into the act. Festooned in holiday garland and wreaths, they roll along the "neutral ground" between the lanes of the wide, busy street, carrying costumed float riders.
The parade will be along Canal Street through the Central Business District, and will start rolling at 1:00 p.m. Just like Mardi Gras, float riders will be throwing and handing down beads, stuffed animals for the kiddies and other holiday goodies. The parade will be followed by a good, old New Orleans-style block party. Fun for the whole family is guaranteed! And definitely bring your camera!! This is a holiday show whose photographic memories you'll treasure for a lifetime.
To view photos from last year's Krewe of Jingle parade, visit their Facebook page. After viewing these pictures you'll be convinced to come out for this exciting event.
For more information about the parade or other holiday events on Canal Street call 504-561-8927 or visit www.canalstreetholiday.com.
Julia Street, just a few blocks from downtown and the French Quarter, is the heart of New Orleans' Warehouse Arts District. On both sides of the street and along adjoining streets are more than two dozen art galleries and two major art museums. On the first Saturdays of every month, the art exhibits in these galleries change over and the galleries keep their doors open late to showcase these new works by some of the city's top artists.
December 1 is the first Saturday of this month. On that evening you can stroll the three-block section of Julia Street where most of the galleries are concentrated, visit the galleries, then turn the corner at Camp Street and take in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center. The galleries and museums are open that night from 6:00-9:00 p.m. for your convenience.
And, of course, if you see a piece of artwork that catches your fancy, you may be able to buy it. Most of them are for sale. After all, that's how our talented artists and gallery owners make their livings. If the items are too large to carry around with you, the galleries will handle shipping arrangements to an address you designate. This is your opportunity to take home a genuine piece of New Orleans culture or surprise your loved one with a special holiday gift, while supporting our city's creative arts community.
For more information call 504-895-7375 or go to www.neworleansartsdistrict.com.
Throughout this month the glamorous, talented Victory Belles will fill the Stage Door Canteen with the spirit of the season, singing lively songs dating back to the World War II era. You can relax and enjoy their soaring three-part harmony, as they create a Magical Musical Christmas with timeless holiday classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and more.
The Stage Door Canteen is at the National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine Street on the corner of Andrew Higgins Drive, in downtown New Orleans. Admission to the show is $40 per person. For show times and other information call 504-528-1944 ext. 314 or visit the Canteen's website at www.stagedoorcanteen.org.
Take a break from your holiday shopping in the French Quarter and stroll among the greatest immortals of New Orleans' storied musical history. The Musical Legends Park, a picturesque courtyard located in the 300 block of Bourbon Street, features life-sized statues of Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Fats Domino, Louis Prima, Chris Owens and Ronnie Kole. Get your camera out and prepare to be photographed alongside the great ones!
Throughout the month of December, the Legends Park and its sponsoring business, Café Beignet, will play host to musical performing artists and local choirs offering up a sampling of holiday classics that will get you into the spirit of the season. Also, at various times, there will be visits from none other than Kris Kringle, otherwise known as Jolly Old St. Nick or just plain Santa Claus.
While relaxing at one of the courtyard's outdoor tables, you can order some of New Orleans' world-famous beignets; fried, hollow pastries doused with generous helpings of powdered sugar, washed down by a soothing café au lait. Café Beignet serves up these sweet delicacies, along with other food and beverage items.
For more information call 504-587-0724 or visit www.cafebeignet.com.
Location: St. Louis Cathedral
Sponsoring Organization: French Quarter Festivals, Inc. & the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Tickets: None - Free and open to the public
Historic St. Louis Cathedral and Basilica, at Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, continues its annual holiday tradition of hosting free concerts by prominent New Orleans musicians and singers in the jazz, classical, gospel and pop genres. The concerts run for an hour, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Here are the artists who will be performing and the dates:
Come enjoy this fabulous musical freebie and surround yourself with the Gothic splendor of one of America's oldest, most historic and most architecturally significant churches. The acoustics will astound you! For more information about this and other upcoming Cathedral Concerts call 504-522-5730 or go to www.fqfi.org.
Learn the secrets of local cuisine from New Orleans chefs at the beautiful, new Market Fare Stage in the historic French Market. Celebrated chefs share their Reveillon recipes at this series of free cooking demonstrations and samplings.
Here is the lineup of chefs who will be cooking and the dining establishments they represent, along with the dishes they are preparing:
All dishes are available for audience sampling after the chefs are done preparing them. The demonstrations starts at 2:00 p.m. but you are encouraged to come early, as seating is limited. The Market Fare Stage is located at 1008 North Peters Street in the French Market.
For more information call 504-522-5730 or visit the French Market holiday events page at www.frenchmarket.org/events/category/holiday-events/upcoming/.
Come celebrate the season at historic, scenic Longue Vue. Tour the house decked in twinkling lights and festive greenery, toast the holidays with a complimentary glass of champagne, enjoy seasonal sounds and find the perfect gift at the gift shop. These teas fill up early, so reserve seats today.
The cost to members of Longue Vue is $30 and non-members pay $35. Call 504-488-5488 or visit www.longuevue.com for more information. Longue Vue is located at 7 Bamboo Road, just off Palmetto Avenue, in New Orleans.
On the second of two weekends that began in November, the Downtown Development District and the Riverwalk marketplace present free outdoor movies with a holiday theme.
Come on out and enjoy hot chocolate, tasty treats, and the beautiful Mississippi River with family, friends, and neighbors. The first 50 families at each showing will receive free fleece blankets! The movie starts at 6:30 p.m. For more information call 504-561-8927 or go to www.canalstreetholiday.com.
Some of New Orleans' top musical artists, performing artists and fine artists will be out in force for this 13th Annual Holiday on the Boulevard Festival, sponsored by the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. The festival features three days of some of the things New Orleans does best: food, art, music and fun and, best of all, it's free (except for the food and artwork, that is).
Taken from the Nigerian Yoruba word loosely translated "energy of the universe," the Ashé Cultural Center has been a hot spot for stimulating, educational activities that preserve the African/Caribbean heritage of New Orleans' African American community. Located on what was once Dryades Street, the center of African American commerce in pre-integration New Orleans, Ashé often hosts art shows, music concerts and other special events. The Holiday on the Boulevard Festival is the culmination of a year's worth of events, with everything combined into one fun spectacular.
For more information go to the Ashé website at www.ashecac.org/main/.
Visitors and locals alike are invited to come "bug out" for a day of family fun...with butterflies and bugs! See the newly renovated butterfly garden, meet Santa Claus, try Bug Nog, play the Gum Drop game for prizes, and catch a buggy reading of "The Night Before Christmas" in the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, one block from the Aquarium of the Americas near the foot of Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.
Admission is $16 for adults, $11 for children (2 -12) and $13 for seniors (65+). Audubon Institute members are admitted free. For more information call 504-581-4629 or visit www.auduboninstitute.org.
This is the 37th annual self-guided tour, featuring seven distinctive Garden District homes, all decorated for the holidays. Enjoy a holiday boutique and cafe at the tour headquarters, Trinity Episcopal Church.
The tours last from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days. Advance tickets are $30 and, on the day of the event, they go up to $40. For more detailed information call 504-581-7032 or go to www.prcno.org.
The Creole Queen paddlewheeler is transformed into a Cajun Christmas wonderland. Papa Noël, his Elf Magician and Cajun Gator are sure to delight. Guests can even hold a real live alligator! Enjoy tasty treats and a classic holiday tea while cruising the Mississippi River.
Cruises are from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Boarding begins at 1:30 from Poydras Street at the Riverwalk. Adults $49, children (12 and under) $34. For more information call 504-529-4567 or visit www.creolequeen.com.
Location: Jackson Square
Sponsoring Organization: Jackson Square Merchants
Tickets: None - Free and open to the public
Join the shops and restaurants on Jackson Square for holiday fun. From 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. you can enjoy all-day specials, book signings, gourmet tastings and much more. Refreshments will be served. Enjoy shopping and caroling throughout the day and a block party from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Call 504-523-6425 for more information.
This old, favorite New Orleans children's tradition features a cast of holiday characters, fun activities and a new holiday menu. Special appearances by Santa and the New Orleans Saintsations! (Saints cheerleaders). Commemorative ornaments, pictures with Santa, and holiday libations are also available for purchase. Unwrapped toys will be collected for Children's Hospital patients at each seating.
The tea will take place in the Royal Sonesta's Grand Ballroom on eight separate days, with two seatings a day: from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. The cost is $43-$58 per person. For details and reservations call 504-553-2328 or visit the hotel's website at www.sonesta.com/RoyalNewOrleans/.
The Bourbon Orleans invites visitors to celebrate the magic of Christmas at "Brunch with Santa and his Elves." A variety of food will feature specialty stations and traditional brunch fare. Festivities include a holiday stocking filled with tantalizing treats for each table, interactive activities, and much more!
Two seatings on each day, at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Admission: adults $49, children (5-12) $24, children (under 4) free. Reservations required. Call 504-571-4672 or visit www.bourbonorleans.com.
A talented trio of classically trained singers, consisting of tenor Jesse Nolan, mezzo-soprano Mary Penick Akin and soprano Lauren Mouney Gisclair, Bon Operatit! offers up a wide selection of holiday classics celebrating the season.
This free performance will last from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter hotel in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, and the public is invited. Valet parking is available for a nominal $5 charge.
Location: 8th District Police Station
Sponsoring Organization: French Quarter Business Association and French Quarter Festivals, Inc.
Tickets: None - Free and open to the public
Students from KIPP McDonogh 15 School decorate the neighborhood tree with handmade ornaments and sing along to popular Christmas carols with Santa and The Riverwalk Jazz Band. Refreshments for schoolchildren are provided.
Event takes place at 1:30 p.m. For information call 504-522-5730.
Location: Warehouse Arts District (various locations)
Sponsoring Organization: Scat Back Productions
Tickets: Viewing the run is free and open to the public; tickets required for special scheduled events
Before eating all those cookies people are going to leave for him by their fireplaces on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will have a chance to slim down a bit with a workout ten days earlier. That's when he (actually, MANY "he's" - and "she's") will be taking part in the "Running of the Santas" in the Warehouse Arts District just a few blocks from Canal Street and the French Quarter.
Dressed in red and white costumes - some fully-clad and others in skimpier outfits - hundreds (maybe thousands!) of "Santas" will run four blocks down Convention Center Boulevard for the "That Others Live" Foundation to benefit military families. This is especially important and needed around the holiday season when many families of armed forces personnel are separated by the call to duty.
The run will start at 6:00 p.m. from the "North Pole" (Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar) to the "South Pole" (Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive). The public is invited to line up along the route and cheer the runners on.
The run is part of a half-day event that starts at noon and ends at midnight. There will be parties at Lucy's and Generations Hall, for which there are two levels of admission: "General" ($15 per person) and "VIP" ($25 per person). Both prices will include admission to the event venues, an opportunity to participate in the cutest and best Santa costume contests and drink specials. Live entertainment will be provided at Generations Hall by the band Category 6.
For more detailed information, to order tickets and to view a two-minute video, visit www.runningofthesantas.com/new-orleans
Come to a holiday party that is big on holiday fun. Lots of treats for kids and grown-ups, too! Take a picture with Santa, meet merry Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, the Trumpeters, and Santa's elves. Monte the Lion will entertain guests and give every child a souvenir Monte stuffed animal.
Two sittings at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Price of admission: Children $40, Adults $55. Call 504-681-4452 or visit www.hotelmonteleone.com/monte.
Location: 522 St. Ann Street and 527 St. Philip Street
Sponsoring Organization: Patio Planters
Tickets: Patio Planters
Savor the holiday spirit and tour French Quarter residences dressed for the season. This self-guided walking tour includes interesting architectural styles and home furnishings, as well as a variety of collections of Christmas decorations. All proceeds benefit that evening's marquee event - Caroling in Jackson Square.
Tour times are 1:00-4:00 p.m. Adults $20, children (under 12) free. Call 504-220-8300 or visit www.patioplanters.org.
Location: Jackson Square
Sponsoring Organization: Patio Planters
Tickets: None - Free and open to the public
For most visitors and locals, this is the highlight of the Holiday Season in New Orleans. A holiday tradition that has been going on since 1946, Caroling in Jackson Square is a joyful experience that thousands of people participate in.
Held on the Sunday before Christmas, Jackson Square is illuminated by hundreds of candles held by singers, both amateur and professional, crooning Christmas favorites that everyone is familiar with. Candles and song sheets are provided, courtesy of Patio Planters.
The gates to Jackson Square open at 6:30 p.m. and the caroling begins at 7:00. For information call 504-220-8300 or visit the Patio Planters website at www.patioplanters.org.
Advisory: Get there early! This is a very popular event that sometimes exceeds the capacity of the square.
One of the most anxiously awaited holiday events in the New Orleans area is the annual performance of "The Nutcracker" by the Delta Festival Ballet. Tchaikovsky's timeless classic is performed flawlessly by this local company founded in 1969 by brother and sister Joseph and Maria Giacobbe.
Delta's "Nutcracker" is widely acclaimed for its professionalism and beauty – a beauty that begins with the dancers (over 150 of them!), including guest artists from national and international ballet, and extends to every detail from props and costumes to scenery and lighting. The performances are enriched by the accompaniment of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom Delta has enjoyed a decades-long partnership.Performance times are 7:00 p.m. on Friday the 21st and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd. For tickets and information visit the DFB website at www.deltafestivalballet.com.
Celebrate the time-honored South Louisiana tradition of touring the community-built bonfires on top of the Mississippi River levee that light the way for "Papa Noël," the Cajun Santa Claus. The adventure includes a narrated motor coach tour, a River Road Plantation Tour, and a Cajun Country dinner; options available. Some walking is necessary. Advance guaranteed reservations required. Book early.
Tour time is 2:30-5:00 p.m. Call for departure locations and pricing at 504-569-1401 or visit the Grey Line website at www.graylineneworleans.com.
Celebrate Christmas Eve cruising in a Victorian-decorated dining room on the last true paddlewheel steamboat on the Mississippi River. Enjoy live jazz, an incredible holiday buffet, and optional libations by experienced "mixologists."
The cruise is from 6:30-9:30 p.m. from the Toulouse Street Wharf at the river. Reservations are required. Call for pricing at 504-569-1401 or go to their website at www.steamboatnatchez.com.
Children ages 6-12 can enjoy holiday traditions of yesteryear at a 19th century house and museum in the heart of the historic French Quarter. Enjoy ornament-making, hearth cooking, games and lots of fun! A tour of the decorated historic house museum is included.
Admission is $40 for members and $45 for non-members. Call 504-274-0746 or visit the website at www.hgghh.org.
Take a festive stroll through the French Quarter to visit historic houses dressed in traditional Christmas decorations, along with Reveillon presentations and seasonal refreshments. Self-guided tours leave from the 1850 House Museum Store and six houses will be featured on the tour.
Tours are $25 per person. Call 504-523-3939 for more information or log on to www.friendsofthecabildo.org.
In addition to those events listed here, there are many other great happenings in New Orleans this holiday season. Click here for a complete schedule and more information about Christmas New Orleans Style.
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